Resolute Forest Products Inc. announced the signing of an agreement to acquire the assets of Tembec's sawmill located in Senneterre, Quebec. By adding the operations of the Tembec sawmill to those of the company's existing Senneterre sawmill, Resolute expects to improve the productivity of its facilities and optimize the related woodlands operations in the Abitibi and Nord-du-Québec regions. The transaction will be completed once all the conditions related to the purchase agreement are met to the satisfaction of the parties.
• Full-year and fourth quarter net earnings attributable to International Paper of $1.2 billion ($3.07 per diluted share) and $165 million ($0.42 per diluted share), respectively, compared with $2.0 billion ($4.85 per diluted share) for full-year 2018, $344 million ($0.87 per diluted share) in the third quarter of 2019 and $316 million ($0.78 per diluted share) in the fourth quarter of 2018
• Full-year and fourth quarter adjusted operating earnings* (non-GAAP) of $1.8 billion ($4.43 per diluted share) and $430 million ($1.09 per diluted share), respectively, compared with $2.2 billion ($5.32 per diluted share) for full-year 2018, $431 million ($1.09 per diluted share) in the third quarter of 2019 and $670 million ($1.65 per diluted share) in the fourth quarter of 2018
• Fourth quarter cash provided by operations of $928 million, bringing full-year 2019 to $3.6 billion compared with $3.2 billion for full-year 2018
• Fourth quarter debt reduction of $582 million, bringing full-year 2019 to $973 million
• Returned $1.3 billion to shareholders in 2019 through dividends of $796 million and share repurchases of $485 million
“International Paper delivered solid earnings and outstanding cash generation in the fourth quarter and full-year 2019,” said Mark Sutton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We again demonstrated our flexibility to navigate through challenging market conditions by optimizing our full value chain. In 2019, we returned $1.3 billion to shareholders and reduced debt by $1.0 billion, while continuing to strengthen our packaging business through targeted investments. We are delivering commercial wins and will continue to tightly manage costs, capital spending and working capital to generate strong cash flows in 2020, despite earnings headwinds. Additionally, we will continue to make choices consistent with our capital allocation framework to drive long-term value creation.”
Industrial Packaging operating profits in the fourth quarter of 2019 were $605 million compared with $535 million in the third quarter of 2019. In North America, earnings increased due to improved demand for export containerboard, lower planned maintenance outage expenses and lower input costs, primarily for wood. Earnings were negatively impacted by lower average sales prices for export containerboard and boxes. Earnings benefited from a favorable inventory valuation adjustment in the fourth quarter of 2019. In Europe, earnings improved driven by seasonally higher volumes, primarily in Morocco, improved margins and continued performance improvements at the Madrid, Spain mill, slightly offset by unfavorable foreign currency impacts, primarily in Turkey.
Global Cellulose Fibers operating profits in the fourth quarter of 2019 were $(45) million compared with $4 million in the third quarter of 2019. Fourth quarter results were impacted by lower prices across all regions on very challenging supply and demand conditions.
Printing Papers operating profits in the fourth quarter of 2019 were $109 million compared with $162 million in the third quarter of 2019. In North America, earnings decreased due to lower average sale prices, an unfavorable geographic mix and increased operating costs partially offset by lower planned maintenance outage expenses and input costs, primarily for wood. Earnings were negatively impacted by an unfavorable inventory valuation adjustment in the fourth quarter of 2019. In Brazil, earnings decreased slightly due to lower average sales prices in export markets and increased operating costs mostly offset by seasonally stronger domestic demand and lower input costs. In Europe and Russia, earnings decreased primarily due to higher planned maintenance outages in Europe and lower average sales margins in both regions.